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‘Classless’ – Shane Warne lambasted for Cheteshwar Pujara’s Yorkshire nickname reference

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Shane Warne has been heavily criticised for referring to Cheteshwar Pujara with the nickname ‘Steve’, given to him at Yorkshire, while discussing how pronouncing the India batsman’s name is not easy with fellow commentators.

Warne, part of Fox Cricket’s commentary panel for the Australia-India Test series, repeatedly used the nickname on the first day of the Adelaide Test. The comments were picked up by Twitter users who pointed out how a former Yorkshire employee, Taj Butt, offered his resignation within six weeks after joining the club due to racist language at the club, including blanket use of the nickname ‘Steve’.

“[There were] continuous references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers when referring to Asian community,” Butt said.”They called every person of colour ‘Steve’. Even Indian Test player Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name.”

Plenty of onlookers, including prominent Indian cricket writers Siddhartha Vaidyanathan and Abhishek Mukherjee, slammed Warne for “tone-deafness”, labelling use of the nickname “racist”. It was also pointed out that Pujara himself preferred to be called Cheteshwar and not by his nickname. “Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara had told ESPNcricinfo in 2018.

“But personally, I would prefer Cheteshwar. Jack Brooks started off with this. He couldn’t pronounce my first name so he was asking me what nickname do I have. I said I don’t have any. So they said, ‘we will start calling you Steve’. Initially, they started calling me ‘Puj’, but they have started calling me Steve again. It’s a good nickname, but I prefer Cheteshwar.”

Yorkshire have become embroiled in a racism row in recent times, sparked by comments made by Azeem Rafiq, former Yorkshire captain, to Wisden.com about the discrimination he faced during his time with the county. Yorkshire have since launched an independent investigation into the allegations, while Rafiq filed a legal claim against the club this week.

Fox Sports have been approached for comment.

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